One problem I have is that love to read about programming. It’s a problem because I do more reading about programming than I actually do programming. It’s partially because I’m a curious person and mostly because I don’t know what to actually work on. Well, I finally have a project I can start on. I’ll be working on the new website for my percussion ensemble, Out of the Darj. Interestingly enough, I’ve chosen to do the site with Python and Django rather than Java. I believe Java would be overkill for such a small site. Since Python, and specifically Django, are on my list of things to work on, we have a winner. I’ve just begun The Definitive Guide to Django: Web Development Done Right, 2nd Edition, and hope to start on the actual site framework by next weekend.
I often enjoy listening to Podcast on my commute and recently discovered The Pragmatic Bookshelf Podcast. This morning, I found myself listening to Chad Fowler speak on the his book, The Passionate Programmer. In this discussion, he mentions that, in today’s economy, the standard process of sending out resumes and posting on job boards isn’t working. You have to stand out to get noticed and to get hired. A large part of this is networking.
I’ve been attending the local Java Users Group and have met some great people. Not only do these contacts serve as possible contacts for future positions, but many of them are experienced developers who are there when you need to ask a question. I think it is a must that you find any local technical (or business) organizations that interest you and start being active in that group. You will thank yourself for the effort you put into it. This theory was supported by a recent article on Forbes.com. In addition to recommendations of volunteering at non-profits to get experience, you also gain contacts which may lead opportunities in the future.
From the Forbes.com article:
The key to finding a job in this economy, particularly if you don’t have much professional experience, is networking.
Lesson learned: You gain more from volunteering and attending meetings that just learning or gaining experience. You make important contacts that may become sources of help or opportunity for your progressing career.
In my day job, I work with a J2EE app, with heavy use of Swing. As we all know, the future of Java is not Swing. It’s use is in decline, especially with the tendency of everything going to the web. Since the point of this project is to learn what is in demand, I’ll be focusing mainly on the web stack. I asked around on some forums and these are the things I was recommended to focus on.
- JPA and Hibernate
- Web Services
In addition to the above, I’m a Linux user and advocate. I’ll be learning some system administration work, especially in the area of setting up and maintaining a web server. One goal here is to sit for the LPI exam.
To start, I have been working through Head First HTML with CSS and XHTML. I’m a big fan of the Head First Series and I believe they give you a great push in the right direction.
I want to start by explaining my motivations and give you a little background on me. I’m starting this blog as a way to motivate me to do more to gain useful experience and hopefully help others along the way. Those of us who consider ourselves Jr Developers live in a strange world, dominated by the dreaded Catch 22.
Dictionary.com defines Catch 22 as “any illogical or paradoxical problem or situation; dilemma.”
In the software industry, this usually means that to move forward you need experience, but to get the experience, you need to move forward. You can see that puts those of us trying to learn and get experience in an extremely difficult position!
I have a plan. First, I will be starting with a subscription to Safari Books Online. I’ve been a subscriber for about a year and have found this to be invaluable to me for gaining knowledge without spending a fortune on books. Second, I’ll be finding and participating in Open Source projects to gain experience and make connections with experienced developers from whom I can gleam knowledge. I don’t know where this will lead, but hopefully this will result in me making connections and getting the experience needed to move my career forward.
Information about me:
I’m someone who came to software in their 20′s. I started my career in the military and with law enforcement. After a fairly serious on the job injury I decided a change of careers was necessary. I got into software by accident. A friend was working as a tech recruiter for a nationally known firm. He helped get me on board and I spent the next 10 months as the worst recruiter at the office. That’s right, I was terrible. What I did learn is that while I was bad at recruiting people, I was quite good at understanding the technologies for which I was recruiting. It make sense, I started on computers as a kid, programming with basic on a Commodore 64. This began a passion for technology that I now consider a large part of who I am.
I took my first job at a small company that made software for the propane industry. It’s a small market and the company did really well for itself. I worked in support and on the road as a trainer. I was there for 4 years and toward the end started learning a little Cobol. This got me really interested in programming, but I knew Cobol was not the future I wanted.
A co-worker had moved on to another company, a Java shop, and convinced me to come on board. I’m still at this company and have been for just over 4 years. I started in support and a little more than 2 years ago, moved into a Business Analyst role. Along the way, I taught myself Java and started doing odd custom programming changes and fixes. After a while, I started doing quite a bit and studied for, and passed, my SCJP 5 certification. At the time, it was my understanding that this was the last step I needed to accomplish before being allowed to move into a full time development position. Unfortunately, the current economic crisis began and layoffs started, which meant we lost developers. While I didn’t move forward, I was lucky to stay right where I was.
So, here I am. I’m a Business Analyst, Jr Developer, and knowledge nut trying to find my way toward a more full time career in development. Breaking free of the Catch 22 is going to be hard, but I hope to share my experiences with all of you, and maybe help you to break free too.